Monday 18 October 2010



The mystery.

Quathlamba, the Barrier of Spears.

The majesty of the Drakensberg Mountains.

Their stark peaks rise potently up to the blue African skies; their cracks and crevices hold the painted secrets of an ancient land. But the rocky crags of the Drakensberg hold more than the spiritual origins of our ancestors. The source of life itself, water, springs from their deepest heart.

In a land that contains deserts and wetlands, sub-tropical forests and bushveld, oceans and mountains within its borders, nothing is as beautiful as the sight and sound of pure drinkable water tumbling over granite boulders, home to sparkling rainbow trout.

Left: After a long hike under the gruelling African sun, the cold, clear waters of the Injisuthi River, high in the central Drakensberg Mountains, provide a welcome relief. (Photo: Judy Croome)

We leave the mountain retreat, winding our way over dirt roads as herdsmen shoo their cattle out into the grazing lands. Friendly children try and outrace the car as women, some carrying overflowing water buckets on their heads, sway gracefully under their heavy loads.

We drive away from the water sources in the mountains, and watch as the natural water supplies become more polluted and contaminated. Already, over 50% of our wetlands have been destroyed in the search for urbanisation and human progress. The pastoral simplicity of the scenes we carry back with us to the hustling city, with its safe clean drinking water (South Africa is one of only twelve countries in the world where the quality of the tap-water is so high that it’s safe to drink) and easy sanitation, hides a darker side to the importance of water in this land that has, on average, an annual rainfall of 500mm (considerably less than the world average of 860mm per annum.)*

The United Nations Blog Action Day 2010 has focused on the need for bringing water to the millions of people, like the women who live in the foothills of the Drakensberg, who still have no direct access to clean water. In this vital search for a solution, let us not forget the environment. The fish, the birds, the animals—even the water itself—must be considered as important a factor as the demands of an ever-increasing human population.

For water is the source of ALL life; not only that of an insatiable humanity.

(*) Information obtained from “About South Africa


Bish Denham said...

Wonderful Judy! Thanks for signing up!

CA Heaven said...

Many years ago (before joining BigOil), I worked in a geo-science research institute. Our work was mainly focused on petroleum exploration and production. Once, we had a visiting researcher from a university in India, working with us for half a year. He often said: "in India water is more important than oil". He worked in fresh-water exploration (the geophysical methods used in petroleum and ground water exploration is pretty much the same). In Winterland, we have abundance of clean drinking water running off the mountains (like you have in SA). I had never thought about the fact that someone was exploring for water, a resource we have always taken for granted.

Cold As Heaven

Marilyn Brant said...

This was fascinating, Judy. Thank you for sharing this with us...and your photo is gorgeous ;).

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

BISH: Thanks for alerting me to this cause. Looking forward to reading your post!

COLD: So interesting! In a dry land, mining water would be more valuable than oil (or gold). SA is such a contrast though - we have our dry desert & semi-desert areas and our wetlands & subtropical forests, and practically everything in between. Although our weather patterns are changing and affecting our usual rainfalls - something to monitor.

MARILYN: :) It's not the photo, it's Injisuthi, quite possible Heaven on earth!

Helen Ginger said...

Thank you, Judy, for bringing this to our attention, once again. As a world, we are destroying so many of our resources.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Wow, Judy- what a lovely blog and a great cause!

I mentioned you on my daily blog - hopefully people will click through and read this.

Hugs, Nance

Elliot Grace said...

...I'm seeing this across BlogLand and loving it. My wife co-sponsors a similar cause, their purpose to raise the necessary funding to dig wells in Africa. People are dying of thirst...with needed water right under their feet. Its sad.

Wonderful post:)

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HELEN: You're so right. In the Kruger Park, when the elephants start overbreeding, the environment gets destroyed because there are just so many of them. That's when the culling starts, to protect the environent so that it can sustain life. I wonder what it'll take to save the environment from humanity?

NANCY: Thanks for the heads up Nancy. I *love* my mug! :)

ELLIOT: Thank heavens for people like your wife!

Damaria Senne said...

Thanks for highlighting this water source, and the challenge that we face, Judy.

I also couldn't help but think that the post is beautifully written. After a couple of sentences, it felt so much like a poem that I had a relook at the whole post and then started reading it again. Beautiful. And thanks.

Anita said...

I saw a photo once of a woman carrying a water jug, walking many miles through muck to get clean drinking water for her children. I think of that woman every time I think my own life is tough (almost daily) and I get over myself real fast.

Thank you for reminding us of this cause!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

DAMARIA: I have just learnt an interesting lesson from your comment. I wrote this bog post ahead of time, when I was *so* sick with a throat abscess I couldn't concentrate. So I just sat and wrote it without trying to think about what I was saying - I just wrote. The lesson I must learn from your encouraging words is that I must SWITCH OFF THE INTELLECT when I write - my writing is always more honest when I do that! Thanks! :)

ANITA: Too true! I'm veryveryveryvery grateful that, despite my sometimes-feeling-sorry-for-myself-when-I-get-another-rejection-letter-days, I know that I live a blessed and privileged life.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Thanks, Judy, for opening our eyes to the beauty of your land and the need to protect the waters of all lands.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

TRICIA: Water is such a precious resource. It's painful to see how we willingly destroy it. Visit Bish's blog to see some horrifying photos of what plastic pollution does to our oceans and their fauna.

Judith Mercado said...

Beautifully written. I can't help but think that this was so, not just because of your writing skill, but also because you permitted the spirit of the land and water to sing through you. It was never far from my awareness that in writing about water you were also writing about a primal force. I hope I'm not stepping out of bounds in telling you, That is your true voice, Judy

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

JUDITH: I agree with you - and I have to learn to stop fearing that primal force in my writing and just let it flow through me as the water flows from the mountain.

Robyn Campbell said...

Judy, lovely post, my friend. The world needs its eyes opened up and this is a start. Thank you, thank you. The pic is awesome and your words will stick with me for many years to come.

Blogging about this post now. Oh, and Christopher and I send all our love to you. And many hugs and kisses. Hey to Theodora. Kisses for her too. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Judy. Water is such a vital and basic resource and often takes so long to clean up once it is tainted.

(I really loved that photo and your description of the mountains)

septembermom said...

Thank you Judy for this beautiful post. It is so important to reach as many thoughtful minds as we can with this important message. The picture is amazing.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

ROBYN: Theodora sends regal hugs back! And thanks SO much for spreading the word – you’re such a star!

PAUL: Cleaning up polluted water is such a curse. The worst is seeing the dead fish float to the surface because of toxins in the water.

KELLY: The 2010 BAD day was really successful in that it reached 000’s of people. Let’s hope it gets the message across!